Nikola Tesla invented all sorts of contraptions but I bet you didn't know that he slaughtered hordes of monsters in a giant mech.
Back in 2018, I reviewed Tesla vs Lovecraft and had a fun time with its ridiculous premise and over-the-top gameplay and now, there's a follow-up in the form of Tesla Force. This brand new game still features frantic twin-stick shooting with a variety of power-ups and weapons but it has a roguelike structure which is handled quite well. You basically choose nodes on a city map in order to tackle various missions and as you do so, you'll accumulate time and unlock perks. If too much time passes, the monsters become more vicious and incorporate their own perks. Therefore, there's a layer of strategy as you'll constantly ponder if it's worth hanging around in a level to get more crystals or if you should get out ASAP so you can forge ahead in a timely manner. It's clever stuff that's impressive and unique.
It must be said that Tesla Force is a co-op game for up to 4 local players. You can play as historical figures such as the titular Nikola Tesla, physicist Marie Curie, novelist Mary Shelley, and writer H.P. Lovecraft makes his return. Going it alone poses a substantial challenge that can be rather fun but playing with others is definitely where the gameplay shines brightest. Seeing constant projectiles fill the screen as you fend off encroaching hordes is a super-fun co-op formula that works brilliantly, especially if you dig chaotic shooters. With that being said, things definitely get a little too frantic at times and you'll occasionally lose sight of your character, get ganged up on, and not know what's going on. This makes the game rather frustrating at times but the overall amount of fun still outweighs any annoyances.
Tesla Force's campaign is divided into a few area maps that feature a boss at the end of each. Working your way through is rewarding stuff as you complete missions while gathering crystals and batteries that you can use to purchase perks and deploy special abilities with. Plus, once you bite the dust or successfully complete a whole area, you can redeem any remaining crystals for permanent boosts and unlockables. This aspect makes failure not feel all that devastating because you might extend your maximum health, buy a new weapon, or unlock a cool feature in between runs. Experimenting with what each weapon, power-up, and ability is capable of is a big part of the fun although accidentally picking up an undesirable weapon can be kind of a bummer. Also, getting your friends to join via a cloning machine at the hub only to have everyone scramble and swap to different characters is a fun way to set up your next game.
My main complaint about Tesla Force is that it simply doesn't feature enough variety. First of all, the mission types become extremely repetitive even early on as you'll do the exact same things over and over again such as destroying statues, collecting parts of an inhibitor, and closing rifts. I wish there were a lot more mission types because that would have made attempting another run much less tedious. Similar things could be said about the gameplay because no matter which mission type you're currently taking on, you'll end up doing the exact same thing. Other twin-stick shooters diversify their gameplay through mini-games, clever rule sets, and such but Tesla Force just has you aim, shoot, run, dash, and unleash the odd special move. That's about all there is to it yet it's still quite fun.
As a roguelike follow-up to a pretty fun twin-stick shooter from a couple years back, Tesla Force incorporates plenty of interesting mechanics and systems that help make its frantic shooting action feel fresh and exciting.
- + Frantic over-the-top twin-stick shooting action with cool weapons and abilities
- + Rewarding roguelike structure
- + Great fun with up to 4 local players
- - Action can get hectic to the point where it's hard to discern what's going on
- - Mission types repeat far too often
- - Core gameplay could use more variety